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Sew a Custom Feather Fringe

Create a feather trim to embellish any garment.

Feathers are soft, light, flexible, and fluffy. When they are attached to thread, they drape beautifully, make curves easily, and add a bit of style to any plain-Jane garment. I’ll show you a method of adding feathers to lightweight garments that cannot support the tape edging found on most store-bought feather trims. You can make your trim using any feathers you like and in any color scheme. For a more classic look, try large, fluffy feathers or smaller feathers that match the hue of your garment.

First, to determine the amount of trim you need to make, measure the garment edge where you plan to apply it. Then cut a tissue paper strip that is at least 1 inch wide and the desired length of the trim.

1. Arrange the feathers. Lay the feathers in a straight line on the tissue paper. Machine-sew across the base of the feathers twice.

2.  Tear away the tissue paper. Be careful not to pull apart the stitches or tear the feathers.

3. Lay the feather fringe in place on the garment. Machine-sew across the top, along the stitches that connect the feathers, to secure it. If your garment is lightweight, try hand-stitching the trim to the fabric.

Excerpted from “Embellishments: Fanciful feathers,”  Threads #141 (Feb./March 2009), p.22.

See another way to create feather embellishment for garments.


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  1. SweetbriarStudio | | #1

    Love it! Would you share reasonable sources for the feathers? I've often wondered how garments have feathers that are so light and frilly. Thanks so much for the how-to.

  2. SimplySue | | #2

    But what about cleaning the garment?

  3. Chm | | #3

    Yes! cleaning! I just finished a prom dress for my daughter that has feathers. How do I wash it?

  4. fernsflair | | #4

    A suggestion as far as cleaning goes, when you make the feather fringe, you should connect it by hooks or lightly basting it, this way you can remove it to clean your garment. A lot of times dry cleaners won't accept garments if there is a risk of damaging any detailed work.

  5. RedWendy | | #5

    It's a common misconception that feathers used for fashion and home accessories are obtained without harm to animals. It would be nice if they just naturally fell off and were scooped off the ground but in reality, feathers are often plucked or clipped from living birds and they suffer tremendously for it. With so many fantastic man-made fabrics to choose from, there's no reason to wear feathers. Make a humane fashion statement!

  6. sewbetsy | | #6

    I have a friend who raises a variety of birds. When her birds molt they drop a beautiful variety of feathers. No cruelity involved. If you're worried about how the birds are treated...check out your local aviaries or "green" egg farmers. There's lots of places to look for beautiful natural do no harm feathers.

  7. lenochka | | #7

    I am agree with RedWendy.
    Stores located in fashion district of New York city full of feather.I believe for commercial reason they pluck or cut feather and let birds free.After that birds not able to fly find food and most of them die from hunger or become easy meal
    for other animals.

  8. EnsemblePieces | | #8

    thanks for the how to! it's horrible how many things in our daily lives are obtained at the cost of others, but before you start going on about cruelty to birds, think of all the other purchases you make that cause pain to your fellow man before you jump up on your soap box.

  9. arigirl | | #9

    Thanks for the how-to! Great way to add feathers, love it!
    As to how to attach it so it can be removed for cleaning... maybe the feathers could be sewn to a stretch lace seam tape (I get them at thrift stores for about 10 cents a pack, sometimes unopened), then hand sew hook and eyes onto the hem of the garment and the seam tape. I am going to try this, I'll post my results once I'm done! :)

  10. RedWendy | | #10

    I am a vegan and I shop local. I cause the least amount of harm possible to people, animals, and the environment.

    Green egg farmers? http://www.humanemyth.org/cagefree.htm

  11. pamcraft | | #11

    Thanks for the practical directions. I have feathers that I have collected "in the field" because I am an active birder. Does anyone have experience with preparation/cleaning of these feathers to prepare them for use on a garment?

  12. Laurie1962 | | #12

    Another wonderful source for feather..sporting goods store that caters to fly fisherman who make their own flys.

  13. carpediemDW | | #13

    With respect to RedWendy, with whom I agree, there is another way to ethically enjoy the beauty of feathers without causing harm. My jewelry and garments are occasionally embellished with feathers from: 1) vintage hats, 2)vintage flowers, and 3) moltings. I feel that by recycling the sacrifice/gift of the animal is being honored. Just be aware that there are laws regarding collecting and use of feathers. Thank you RedWendy for your concern and compassion.

  14. LunaSee | | #14

    Can you wash feathers? Why not if they are not dyed? To Chm, please post a picture of your daughter in her prom dress.

  15. GrammaDonna | | #15

    It is possible to find "friendly" feathers. I have boxes of feathers from several types of chickens, guinea hens, turkeys, ducks that have dropped off my own chickens, etc. and have washed them in antibacterial soap solution, air dried, and have used some of them for hair ornaments, The person who said to check with "green" farms has the right idea.

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